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Posts Tagged ‘strength’


Monday, November 2, 2020

On the eve of a major election in the USA, we reflect on extremes and how living on the edge might be our greatest teacher. 

restoration_449x3181[1]Psalm 69:4-5

Extremes

I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes have failed, looking for my God. More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause. Too many for my strength are my treacherous enemies. Must I now restore what I did not steal?

When life’s extremes weigh us down and wear us out there is only one place to go for restoration. When too many lies evil and too much denial tax us beyond our reserves there is only one path to take for transformation. When all roads close, when too much is asked of us there is only one person who understands our experience of extremes.

God says: I never intend for you to go beyond your limits; pushing you too far is a sure sentence of death. Your voice has disappeared from too much crying, your eyes are weary from so much looking. You are outnumbered and overdrawn. You are beyond weary; you are spent. When your body fails and your mental powers ebb, place your heart in my hands. I will not let you vanish into dust. I will champion you against your foes. I will restore even that which has been taken from you.


Also visit the Noontime reflection Without Cause by entering the words into the blog search bar.

Image from: http://bumponablog.com/2010/03/gentle-restoration/ 

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Thursday, October 29, 2020

lord_is_my_strength_psalm_73_26_poster-p228906538671377196tdcp_400[1]Daniel 10:20

Gift

When God spoke to me I grew strong and said, “Speak, my Lord, for you have strengthened me”.

We look for strength through artificial means: drugs, food, exercise, power. And all the while we hold in our hands enough strength to live eternally, enough strength to forgive ceaselessly, enough strength to love everlastingly.

God says:  You may find this difficult to believe but I truly live in you.  You may wonder how or why but you need not spend much time worrying over those details.  Many of you worry that you do not deserve my time and devotion; but you do. You must remember to value yourself as much as I value you. Many of you assume that you deserve my favor and love and you see yourself as fully content; you have forgotten how to listen to me and to others. You must remember to measure yourself a bit so that you listen more than you speak. I have given you great spiritual strength. Believe in this as you believe in me. And consider each day . . . how you spend this precious gift.

Jesus said to them: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you”.  (Matthew 17:20)


Enter the word strength in the blog search bar and explore God’s gift of your strength to you.

To find a reflection and prayer for strength, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jcsnotebook.org/pray-for-strength/

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In a time of pandemic, we look for assurance. In a time of unrest, we look for security. In a time of confusion, we look for safety. At all times, we drop our fear and remember that God is with us always. 

ngods[1]Daniel 10:19

Safety

Fear not, beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong.

The words fear not appear frequently in scripture; God is constantly comforting us even when we are too distraught to listen for the calm, quiet voice.

The expression do not be afraid peppers our sacred writings; God is forever calming us even when we are too anxious to know God’s presence.

The phrase I am always with you is one we see and hear frequently in our sacred texts; God is always reassuring us even when we are too frightened to believe that we are held safely in God’s hands.

God says: You worry about situations and people over which you have little influence and no control. I only ask that you adjust your own vision. I will worry about all that you see is unjust in the world. I even take care of people and circumstances you know nothing about. I understand that there are days and nights when it seems that I have stepped away from my creation and that I have ceased tending to your world; but this is an illusion that comes from blinkered vision. When you rest in me you rest in safety. When you work with me you have courage. When you believe in me and all that I do you gather strength. Fear not. You are safe. Take courage. Be strong. You are loved. You are mine. I treasure you in every moment of your existence.

Enter the word safe or fear or courage into the blog search bar and reflect on your own perception of God’s presence in your life.


Image from: http://www.jeremiah-2911.com/2011/11/gods-hands.html

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Planets_wallpapers_117[1]

Proverbs 8

Wisdom and Creation

We have ample opportunity to listen to wise words; yet we seem to go our own way – thinking that we know better. Wisdom has been with us since creation; yet we ignore her when we need her most.

Wisdom has much to offer: Straight words, prudence, knowledge and discretion, instruction that is more valuable than gold, silver, or jewels. Wisdom loves those who seek her. Wisdom is strength, righteousness and justice. Wisdom calls out to those who have ears to hear . . .

And now my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; and all who hate me love death. 

In today’s Gospel (John 6:30-35) the people ask Jesus to give them a sign so that they may believe. I am astounded . . . and yet, do I not do they same? The people in today’s reading walk with Jesus, they shake the same dust from their clothes that also powders Jesus’ feet and face, they experience miracles at Jesus’ hands . . . and yet they ask for a sign that they might believe.

Wisdom offers her ample generosity . . . yet we ask for more. Or worse still, we decide that we know better.

Wisdom has been with God since the creation. She has dwelt with God from the beginning and she will be with God through the infinity of God’s time and through the enormity of God’s space. Why do we ask for a sign . . . when the sign lives within us? Why do we ask for wisdom . . . when wisdom has dwelt with us from our inception?


Adapted from a reflection written on May 10, 2011.

Image from: http://wakpaper.com/id164616/earth-from-space-wallpaper-1600×1200-pixel.html 

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Friday, May 22, 2020hamikdash21[1]Haggai 2:15-19

Promise of Immediate Blessings

This is good news!  Commentary tells us that we should read this citation along with Chapter 1: The Exhortation to Rebuild the Temple. After the destruction and capture and exile by the Babylonians, the Jewish people were finally allowed to return in groups to Judah, but they had a good deal of trouble in rebuilding their temple and themselves. We can read about this in Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Samaritans in the northern part of the former Jewish territory who had intermingled with non-Jews have become the enemies of Jews returning to their home in the southern region of Judah.  These Samaritans now block the way home for the returning exiles.  In a time of return from deportation when we might imagine a new joy rising from the hearts of the Israelites, it is instead corruption and idol worship that they experience.  In a time when physical and emotional fatigue from the return journey sap the strength of God’s people, they are called to dig deep into their inner selves to find the energy to rebuild.  Yet despite the energy they expend in their struggle to return to their Jerusalem home, the faithful find the wherewithal to rebuild.  They rely on their custom of maintaining contact with Yahweh through exile. They are an exhausted people who return from the north and yet here the prophet Haggai entreats the people to rebuild what was lost and he promises that there will be immediate joy.  We might feel tired just thinking of the turmoil, disappointment and suffering they experience.  We also might feel their hope, animation and sense of fulfillment.

This is a story that inspires.

Some of this prophecy (in particular the portion of chapter 2 just before today’s reading) takes the form of a “torah” or instruction given by a priest and so it carries particular significance. We are reminded that we are nothing if not first thought and then created by God. We are exhorted to re-build the old temple and to rebuild ourselves.  We are reminded that God will fill us with the persistence and fortitude to answer this call.  We are told that there is one to come who will shepherd his sheep in their return to an old home in a new spirit.

As we near the end of this Eastertide in the midst of pandemic, we have journeyed for two months of celebration in the most unusual of ways. We experience both the death of a hope and the birth of a new way of living, and throughout these weeks, we have always had the intimate presence of the resurrected Christ who arrives as fulfillment of all the prophets have predicted.  Jesus is the new temple, and we are the building blocks.  He is the promise, and we are the beneficiaries.  He is the blessing, and we are the blessed.  As we return from our own personal exiles, may we live up to this promise.  And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious Lord, you have called us back from our time of exile.  You have offered us transformation and new life.  You have filled us with new energy and new strength.  May we live up to the potential we embody.  May we learn to be true, living stones in your temple.  And may we experience the joy of your immediate blessing.  Amen. 


Adapted from a Noontime first written on May 17, 2007.

Image from http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/rebuilding-the-temple-in-jerusalem

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Acts 13:41-52: Results

Contrary to what we may think, the practice of meekness does not create a world of submission and pain.  Faithful meekness trains us to handle obstacles and to persist through adversity.  True meekness teaches us to listen, to witness, and to respond as God directs.  Honest meekness turns the other cheek in an invitation to join Christ’s mystical body.  Authentic meekness steps forward into the world despite any threat to reputation, stamina or strength.

Today’s Noontime is a snippet of the story of life in the early Church. Footnotes will tell us that Antioch was an important missionary center after the focus shifted away from Jerusalem and we see how jealousy begins to simmer when Paul and Barnabas attract more followers to The Way.  The result of their meekness in Christ is conflict . . . and at first glance this may seem to be a failure.

There are three important elements in this story for us to remember.

First, we see how thirsty people are to hear The Word.  Verse 44 tells us that nearly the entire city turns out to hear Paul and Barnabas speak.  The result of Christ’s meekness is celebrity.

Second, when the missionaries are eventually forced out of the city by the jealous and powerful, Christ’s Word and Christ’s Way are easily dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, into the West and Europe.  The result of Christ’s meekness is endurance.

Third, when looking at verses 51 and 52 we find that the disciples make a statement through their witnessing rather than through an act of aggression.  The result of Christ’s meekness is quiet power.

A grain of wheat falls to the ground and bursts open so that the stalk may grow in fertile soil.  We see the grain of wheat being trod on here, and crushed into fertile ground.  Conflict and strife bear fruit through Christ and we see that the result of Christ’s meekness is not failure.  It is an abundant harvest.

And so we pray.

Good and Gracious God,

Teach us to speak of you in such a way that we call others to follow you.

Fill us with your Spirit in such a way that we find patience for the journey.

Remind us of our redemption by your Son in such a way that we remember to thank you.

Call us to our higher selves in such a way that we find power in you.

Stay with us in such a way that we delight in the practice of meekness.

Bless us in such a way that our meekness brings results for you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. 

Amen.

Tomorrow, rejecting idols . . . the importance of meekness . . .


Image from: https://www.cutlermiles.com/saints-paul-and-barnabas-in-lystra-jacob-jordaens/ 

A re-post from April 21, 2020.

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Psalm 28: http://www.ehow.com/info_8087024_deserts-drive-through.htmlThe Rock

Monday, December 30, 2019

In today’s Gospel John the Baptist tells us that he went out to the desert and there he encountered God; we are reminded that we must go apart, from time to time, as Jesus did to recoup, to re-focus, to re-listen.  Even the one who heals all wounds and mends all brokenness goes off to pray for a little while.

Today’s Noontime focuses us on the origin of our strength.

To you, My Lord, I call; my Rock, do not be deaf to me.  It is in the heat of desert days that we find an unyielding foundation on which to put our feet.  Our foundation is the Rock, the Lord.

The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusted and found help.  It is in the chill of the desert nights that we discover we need constant protection from the buffets of the world. We find this protection in the Rock, the Lord.

If you fail to answer me, I will join those who go down to the pit.  It is in the desert extremes that we realize we are nothing, our puny resources are for naught without the Rock, the Lord.

So my heart rejoices; with my song I praise my God.  It is in the harsh, desert reality, with all resources stripped away, that we come to understand the value of our relationship with the Rock, the Lord.

Lord, you are the strength of your people, the saving refuge of your anointed king.  It is in the beauty of the desert simplicity that we come to believe that the Rock, our Lord, loves us more than we have imagined.

Rather than fear loss we must be open to its message, for although God is our constant companion we do not feel God’s true presence because we have filled our days with our own activity.

Rather than lament a world that is woefully off course, we might instead turn to the Rock, the Lord, for sustenance and hope.

Rather than funnel our energy into petty arguments and the useless struggle over power we do not even possess, we might rely instead on the Rock, the Lord, for clarity of vision and purity of intent.

Rather than hide our envy and resentment over the good fortune of others, we might look to the Rock, the Lord, for a steadfast spirit and a constant heart.

Picture1Prepare the way of the Lord, The Baptist calls out the words of the prophet Isaiah.  Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill made low.  When we journey into the desert to better hear the Lord, our way will be smoothed out for us by the Lord.  No more will we skitter down steep slopes as we travel. No more will we exhaust ourselves as we climb over the huge problems that appear before us.  The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.  No more will we worry which way to turn and which way to go.  And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.  The Lord, our Rock, assures us of our rescue.

As we reflect and pray in this Christmastide, let us return with The Baptist to the desert, let us listen again to the familiar words of Isaiah, and let us build our permanent home on the only Rock that both rescues and sustains.  Let us wait on the Lord.

 


Adapted from a reflection first posted on December 9, 2012.

Image from: http://www.ehow.com/info_8087024_deserts-drive-through.html

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Proverbs 22 to 24: Infinity is Us

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Escher: Approaches to Infinity

Once I begin to read these verses, I cannot stop.  They ring as true today as when they were written so long ago.  They are proof that human nature, like water, swirls to the lowest level if left unchecked; but if effort is spent, water can be managed into refreshing spray, into nurturing irrigation channels.  Water can both destroy and mend.  So too, can humans.

The shrewd man perceives evil and hides, while simpletons continue on and suffer the penalty . . . Be not friendly with a hot-headed man, nor the companion of a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways, and get yourself into a snare . . . Look not on the wine when it is read, when it sparkles in the glass.  It goes down smoothly, but in the end it bites like a serpent, or like a poisonous adder.  Your eyes behold strange sites, and your heart utters disordered thoughts . . .

Some things never change.

If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you . . . Lie not in wait  against the home of a just man, ravage not his dwelling place; for the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin . . . Be not provoked with evildoers, nor envious of the wicked; for the evil man has no future, the lamp of the wicked will be put out. 

Some people never change.

He who plots evil – men call him an intriguer.  Beyond intrigue and folly and sin, it is arrogance that men find abominable.

Proverbs are a fountain of strength because we can find sayings that suit all people and occasions.  As I read, the images of many people flood my mind.  Images of myself also come to me – both from good times and from bad.

These are universal sentiments for all people for all times.  On a hot summer evening we do well to pause . . . read . . . listen, watch and pray.


Written on June 12, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://f06.middlebury.edu/FYSE1176A/Escher.htm

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1 Samuel 24Escape

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rembrandt: Saul and David

Several weeks ago, we reflected on celebrating escape from something or someone who would have brought us great ruin or harm.  Yesterday’s Gospel gave us the opportunity to examine how Jesus is able to escape the traps laid for him by those who hated him.  Today we take a look at a small portion of the story of David, the young man who is designated as King of Israel by Samuel but who waits his turn as leader of God’s chosen people by resisting the temptation to fight against Saul.  David does not deny that he has been chosen King, nor does he murder Saul in order to take what is his; rather, he abides in God’s will and God’s time . . . and he takes the routes of escape that God offers while he actively waits on the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Today we read the story of how God saved his imperfect yet faithful servant and we are no less than David.

Today we read the story of how David relied on his God’s constancy . . . and he did not allow fear to turn him toward revenge or cowardice.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) we read the story of how Jesus confronted prejudice and hatred and we do well to follow his example.

In yesterday’s Gospel we were given a road map for how to escape manipulation and scheming.  We must rely on God always, remain faithful to the covenant God shares with us, and always act in love and for love of God.  In this way we will always know escape from anything danger or evil that hopes to overtake us.

And so we pray . . .

When the call to do God’s work pulls us into alien and dangerous territory, we must rely on God’s wisdom and not our own.

When the hand of God heals us and then sends us out to do God’s work, we must rely on God’s fidelity and nurture our own.

When the voice of God urges us to work in fields are that unfamiliar to us and that sap our energy, we must rely on God’s strength and conserve our own.

When the heart of God sends us to work with those who would do us harm, we must rely on God’s love and hope for redemption.   Amen.


A re-post from October 17, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.aaroneberline.com/blog/tag/david/ and http://www.artbible.info/art/large/378.html

 

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